Born 1955 in Middlesbrough, the eighth of nine children.
After graduating from Sheffield Polytechnic, started his working life in the NHS before beginning Prison Governor training in 1982. Worked at Lincoln Prison, Deerbolt Borstal (Barnard Castle) and Frankland High Security Prison (Durham City) before moving to a succession of Whitehall posts. This period included work on delay in the criminal justice system and led to the introduction of the so called Narey Courts which succeeded in significantly reducing court delays.
Returned to the Prison Service in 1996 as Head of Security Policy before joining the Prisons Board as Director of Resettlement in 1997. Was appointed Director General of Prisons in 1998. Following a merger of Prisons and Probation in 2003 he became the first CEO of the National Offender Management Service .
He resigned in 2005 to become Chief Executive of Barnardo’s. After a very successful five years during which he chaired The Campaign To End Child Poverty and during which Barnardo’s grew by 40% to become, once again, the UK’s biggest children’s charity, he left in 2011 to spend more time at his home in North Yorkshire.
He writes regularly for The Times and is a member of the Board of the Advertising Standards Authority. He advises the Secretary of State for Education on children’s issues and has been the architect of the Government’s adoption reforms which have seen adoptions in England reach a 36 year high.
Sir Martin was awarded a knighthood in the 2013 New Year’s Honours list for services to vulnerable people.
He has been married for 35 years to Jan and they have two adult children.